Sometimes I find myself too focused on a single aspect of writing. Specifically revising/cutting/editing my most current manuscript. I feel compelled to focus all my attention on it, and receiving an email from an agent, stating “I like it, just need to tighten it up and bring the word count down” only seems to motivate me to focus on it even more. I sit down, wracking my brain and keyboard, and when I look up, the day has gone. As I rub the kinks in my back and bum, I feel proud of all the work I’ve done.
I believe this happens to almost every writer, especially with new projects. Every waking second of free time is focused on that single project, and other projects take a back seat. When I get hyper-focused, my blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, and overall physical activity are very much compromised.
You might be thinking, “Damn it, Jim! I’m a novelist, not a social media warrior!”, or maybe more like, “But Twitter, Facebook, etc. distract you from actual work”, which is true…to a certain extent. Allow me to explain.
I’m sorry to say this…but we’re all human. As such, we all need breaks. Whether it’s a running or writing marathon, we all need breaks. They help us to stay motivated to complete a task by keeping us from getting burnt out on it. I think most of us can say that we’ve binged watched a season or two on Netflix or HBO. There almost always comes a point when we think to ourselves, “Self…I need to take a break.”
What does this have to do with binge-writing? Taking much-needed breaks to peruse Facebook/Twitter, write a blog entry, go for a walk, read a few chapters of a book, cook a nice yummy meal, crack your knuckles on a new short story, etc., not only provides those much-needed breaks, but it also helps us stretch out those writing kinks that form from inactivity. Allowing your mind a reprieve from focus is like taking a break between sets at a gym, stopping to stretch on a long road trip, or burping between beers. 😛
It’s easy to get sucked into a new story, or excited/stressed about revisions for a submission. Ironically, becoming hyper-focused can ultimately compromise the quality of our writing.
The point is: taking breaks is healthy! Just remember, breaks can suck us in just as easily as our manuscripts.